Our "In Conversation" series features long-form interviews with visionaries and change-makers

In this conversation, we spoke with Niki Franco, AKA, Venus Roots. Niki is a Caribbean abolitionist community organizer, multidisciplinary cultural worker, writer, podcaster, and facilitator of spaces for collective study.

Currently based in Miami, Niki serves as the political education director for (F)empower MIA and civic engagement organizer for Power U Center for Social Change. We spoke with them about abolition, the phenomenon of Black capitalism, the insidious nature of neoliberal feminism, capitalism’s tendency towards co-opting its own opposition, disaster capitalism amidst COVID, why Instagram is probably bad for us, and much more.

Throughout history, crises and disasters have always catalyzed new strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. We are seeing this during COVID through the blatant disregard for the lives of essential workers and the refusal of wealthy nations to lift COVID vaccine patents which restrict poorer countries from manufacturing their own supplies.

In this 2-part Conversation, we spoke with Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, who co-authored the book, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet. In our conversation, Raj and Jason explore how capitalism relies on cheapness, the era of the capitalocene — which the authors prefer to the more common term, anthropocene — the myth of overpopulation, which has its roots in racism and often borders on ecofascism, and much more.

In this Conversation, we spoke with Eric Holt-Gimenez, author of the book, “A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism: Understanding the Political Economy of What We Eat.” Why does hunger exist? What are the causes of food insecurity? Why do those in working in the food system, from the farmers who till the soil to the server who places your meal on the table, receive largely unlivable wages? Eric’s answer to these questions is simple: capitalism. Together we trace a line from the enclosures of the early 17th century to the present, looking at how food was commodified and how the market capitalist economic system has done a great job of overproducing food, and a poor one of distributing it equitably.

In this conversation, we dove deep into the details and specifics of the United States’ political response to Covid with Eric Levitz, senior writer for New York Magazine's Intelligencer blog. Eric wrote a piece titled, “Coronavirus Creates an Opening for Progressivism — Also Barbarism,” where he explored what Covid means for the future of politics in the United States.

What political cracks in fishers has Covid opened up? What divisions has it given rise to? What new forms of connection? How has it demonstrated the vulnerabilities and weaknesses in our political system, both domestically and also in how we interface with the rest of the world? Is the United States moving towards a period of more right-wing or neoliberal barbarism? Or will the Covid crisis finally be a wake up call to move towards a more just, equitable, and solidaristic form of politics? These are just some of the questions we explore in this conversation.

More interviews from our "In Conversation" series 

In this Conversation, we spoke with Thea Riofrancos, Associate Professor of Political Science at Providence College, and co-author, along with Kate Aronoff, Daniel Aldana Cohen, and Alyssa Battistoni, of A Planet to Win: why we need a green new deal, published by Verso.

 

In this conversation, Thea gives us an update on where we are on climate change — and what the Biden administration is proposing to do about it (spoiler alert: it’s not nearly enough). We also talk about the problems with neoliberal attempts to address climate change, how capitalism is at the heart of the climate crisis, and why we need a Green New Deal.

Here in the United States we live on colonized land. In recent years, the conversation around “decolonization” has been seamed through many different contexts, from the land back movement to the push to decolonize various institutions. But what would actual decolonization look like? And how do we decolonize things like our minds and our belief systems?  

 

In this Conversation, we spoke with Rupa Marya and Raj Patel on their book, Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, which will be out on August 3rd. The book explores one specific kind of colonization: that of medicine. They authors provide both a practical and metaphorical exploration of the impacts of colonization through the idea of inflammation — inflamed bodies, an inflamed society, and an inflamed planet. How can we dismantle colonization in our institutions and in our minds while building new connections and ways of being through what the authors call “deep medicine”? These are just some of the topics we explore in this Conversation.